The day started out with a light breakfast, which included granola bars from Nature’s Bakery, bananas, apples & most importantly coffee! There were also several vendors including New Balance, who sponsored the event. During this time, one of the leaders of City Fit Girls explained the day’s schedule, which included HIIT training, kettle bells, yoga, facials, massages and so much more. We were encouraged to go to whatever sessions we were interested in, and it was also emphasized to step outside your comfort zone and try something new!
We started our FitRetreat with Killer Cardio taught by Diva Richards. Whoa was she a fabulous instructor with contagious energy! We did a combination of kickboxing, plyometrics and core exercises during this session. One thing was for sure- we did not stop moving for 45 minutes!
Next, we attended a session taught by three Whole Foods’ “Healthy Eating Specialists”. I was very happy to hear that one was a dietitian, and the other two ladies were in school for nutrition and dietetics. One of the women discussed the benefits of frozen vegetables (i.e. nutrient density, value and convenience). This made my heart sing! For those of you who do not know (yet), I am a BIG fan of frozen fruits and vegetables. Fun Fact: frozen fruits and vegetables are typically more nutrient dense then those found in the grocery store produce section. Why you ask? Fruits and vegetables, intended for freezing, are picked from the farm then flash frozen, which seals in all of their wonderful nutrients. Therefore nutrients are not lost in the transportation to the grocery store.
We decided it was time for another workout, which was perfect because next on the schedule was Mid-Morn Workout Jawn taught by Mark Donahue. We started with a warm up, and then went in to the dreaded “Bring Sally Up” song. For those of you who do not know this song, consider yourselves lucky! Take home message- you squat for three minutes straight. Yes…I felt the burn! Then, we did various other plyometric exercises (think curtsy lunges and burpees).
Lunch was next and boy were we hungry! Sweet Green served nutrient- packed salads that hit the spot. Sweet Green was kind enough to bring two staple and two seasonal salads. I decided on the Spicy Sabzi Salad, which had a mix of spinach, tofu, quinoa, carrots, broccoli, beets served with a carrot chili vinaigrette and sriracha.
Pampering oneself was the theme after lunch. Think yoga, massages and facials. There is simply nothing better than treating yourself with a massage or facial after a hard morning of exercise.
I was incredibly inspired by this event and all the women who participated in it. Diva Richards (instructor #1) had words at the end of her class that really hit home for me. She said we must focus on our own journey, and no one else. Every person starts from a different place, and it is not fair, or right, to compare yourself to others. Focus on your personal journey and where you have come from, and where you want to go!
You can include others on your fitness journey, which will inspire others to meet their goals and to stay on track. Whether that means buddy training, signing up for a race with a friend, going for a hike or walk with a coworker, or attending a fitness retreat with your sister. I believe fitness is more fun in numbers, plus it holds you accountable. But do not forget to focus on your personal goals and your healthy lifestyle journey!
Yes, food is how we fuel our body but it is so much more than just energy. Food is indirectly woven in to most facets of our life, including birthdays. So when I invited my friends over to celebrate my best friend's birthday, I knew the food had to be yummy (and healthy of course).
An appetizer and a dessert were needed since we had plans to go out to dinner. For the appetizer, I decided to make a Greek 7 Layer Dip. How many ingredients make up this yummy dip? You guessed it, 7 (hint: read the recipe name again). If you are feeling ambitious, you could make your own hummus, which would add a few more ingredients.
This delicious dip is packed with all kinds of nutrients. The hummus, feta, and olives contribute healthy fats and protein, while the vegetables provide vitamins and fiber. I served the dip with baby carrots, sliced peppers and whole-wheat mini pitas, which yield additional nutrients such as vitamin A, iron and fiber.
Here are some helpful grocery shopping tips for the required ingredients. When buying hummus, spice it up by choosing a roasted garlic or roasted red pepper spread. I have found that flavored hummus turns the "hummus haters" in to "hummus lovers", too! Second tip, choose a small can of artichokes packed in water (not oil). Final tip, I would recommend getting full fat (regular) feta cheese. Feta is a cheese naturally low in fat so no need to go fat-free with this cheese.
Greek 7 Layer Dip
8 ounces hummus
1 small cucumber, diced
1/4 cup red onion
1/2 cup diced artichokes
1/2 cup diced cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup feta cheese
1/4 cup diced black olives
1. Spread hummus on the bottom of serving dish.
2. Layer with cucumbers, onions, artichokes, tomatoes, cheese and olives.
3. Serve with sliced vegetables and whole- wheat mini pitas.
Since this was a birthday celebration, cupcakes were an essential part! Being that I am more of a chef than a baker, I went with a boxed cake mix. I bought the Pillsbury Sugar- Free Devils' Food Cake Mix. There are various brands and types of cake mixes, so I would love to hear what you like to bake!
The box's instructions read to combine the cake mix, 3 eggs, 1/2 cup oil and 1 1/4 cup of water then to mix together. To cut down calories and fat, I decided to use 1/4 cup oil and 1/4 cup Natural Motts Applesauce. I used 3 whole eggs per the box recommendations, but if desired, you could use 5 egg whites.
What would make these chocolate cupcakes even more delicious? A homemade, mouth-watering peanut butter frosting! And it was quite simple to make too.
Peanut Butter Frosting
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. cocoa powder
1/4 cup honey
2-6 tbsp. almond milk
1. Combine peanut butter, honey, and vanilla.
2. Refrigerate until ready to spread on cupcakes.
Once the cupcakes were done, I set them aside to cool. Once cooled, I scooped the icing into a plastic baggy and cut one corner off. Who needs a fancy icing bag when you have a plastic baggy?!
The important concept to take away from this post is that when celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, or any other life event, you can make small adjustments in recipes to make them healthier while still maintaining great flavor!
So what party food is your biggest weakness? What healthy modifications do you like to make to your appetizers or desserts? Comment below!
I am a registered dietitian, licensed nutritionist, foodie, fitness enthusiast, traveler and runner, living in the city of brotherly love. I have a passion for cooking and sharing delicious, healthful food. I enjoy working with clients to help them achieve their health and nutrition goals.